Tigers not letting up because it’s S.C. State
By Will Vandervort
Clemson football fans will have to wait another week or so to see 2013’s top recruit. Head coach Dabo Swinney said following Wednesday’s practice that cornerback Mackensie Alexander will not play Saturday when the fourth-ranked Tigers take on S.C. State in Death Valley.
“We are kind of back to the drawing board with him, unfortunately,” Swinney said.
The freshman from Immokalee, Fla., reinjured his groin in Tuesday’s practice. It’s the same groin injury that kept Alexander, the nation’s No. 2 cornerback coming out of high school, from participating in camp and missing the Georgia game.
“The problem with him is that it has been so long since he has cut it loose and there are certain things you can’t mimic in the rehab process,” Swinney said. “In football you can only do so much then you have to put them out there and let them go.
“Some of those football movements are hard to simulate. He kind of felt a little tug and pull yesterday and pulled up.”
Swinney admitted this can be a major setback for Alexander as they were hopeful he might get on the field this week and could gain some valuable game experience. As for whether this might cause them to look at redshirting Alexander, Swinney said they will continue to evaluate the situation on a week-by-week basis.
“We are taking it one day at a time,” the Clemson coach said. “We are not making any big picture decisions. Obviously, the further it goes, yeah, absolutely. It is still early in the season and we have an open date coming up so we will keep going and, again, take it one day at a time.
“We are doing everything we can to strengthen it all up and get him better, but he keeps having these little setbacks. He takes two steps forward and then he takes another back so we will keep plugging.”
Not taking it easy this week. Clemson might be playing an FCS opponent in S.C. State, but the Tigers are treating preparations for these Bulldogs the way they did for the Bulldogs they played last week.
Despite having a physical camp and a physical week of practice leading up to the Georgia game, then playing in a physical game with Georgia, the Tigers practiced Tuesday and Wednesday as hard as they did in camp.
“We hammered down. We hammered down,” Swinney said. “It’s too early (to scale back). It’s way too early for that. I think that was the mentality they came out with on Tuesday. They were all proud of themselves and a little sore, a little tired and did not get much sleep and maybe we pull back a little bit. But, no! Now is not the time to pull back. Now is the time to put the pedal to the metal.
“We did not get here by pulling back. Now, you have to be smart. There is a time in the season, after a certain amount of time, where we might cut back a couple of periods on Tuesday or Wednesday, but right now is not the time. We are a very immature football team that has a lot of developing to do in a lot of areas. We are a team that has won one ball game and made a lot of mistakes in that game.
“In football you are supposed to be sore,” he continued. “It is not supposed to be easy. You are not supposed to walk out here on a Tuesday after a tough game and feel good about it. But you have to push through that. That’s where the mental toughness comes in.”